We can talk about moral victories (I’ve been a part of plenty of those…) all we want, but each time we step foot on the field, we seek to defeat our opponent. And yet there are times our opponent is superior; he or she simply scores more goals, runs faster, and hits harder. When the scoreboard favors the opponent, as it did this past weekend, have we failed? The implicit goal of any athletic competition is winning, but the way in which we compete must always remain our true measure of success. With that framework in mind, Holderness Weekend 2018 was a smashing success.
The Wise Center was packed Thursday evening for Proctor’s fourth annual Fall Term Innovation Night. Social Entrepreneurship, Engineering, and Culture and Conflict students shared their research, business plans, and progress on their robots with the community. Whether the subject matter was programming a robot to gather and distribute orbs into a specific location, researching the care of pregnant women in the prison system, or developing a business plan to sell and distribute imperfect produce to food deserts, this culminating celebration provides an unparalleled opportunity for students to take the uncomfortable role of teacher.
For the past eleven weeks, we have operated in our own sphere, working incredibly hard to do our best work in the classroom, on the athletic fields, in the studio. Focused on our individual work, individual needs, deadlines, demands. Periodically, we come together for community moments, but too often it seems these moments center around tragedy: processing the loss of a loved one, supporting each other through unthinkable violence, discussing the hard truths around inequality in our lives. As we walk through this final week of classes of the Fall Term, our focus shifts to coming together as a community to celebrate all the good that surrounds us.
On a trip to Georgia and Alabama this week, Director of Development Keith Barrett '80 and I took a dogleg route from Atlanta to Birmingham, though the city of Montgomery, Alabama. We stopped to visit Danny Loehr ‘09, who currently works for the Equal Justice Initiative (EJI) founded by Bryan Stevenson. EJI seeks to “end mass incarceration and excessive punishment, challenge inhumane and violent prison conditions, and confront the history of racial inequality and injustice in America.”
Advisory Dinners are some of the best evenings of the semester, though scheduling them is not easy. Last Wednesday night my advisees came over for a meal, but we had to balance a JV Girls Soccer game at 4:00 pm, Open Gym at 6:15 pm for a basketball player, extra-help for a math student, and the time I needed to clean up my house, bake a lasagna and frost a birthday cake. I try to do a dinner for each advisee’s birthdays, letting them choose the meal and the kind of cake they desire, a tradition left over from my childhood. (My brother always chose fish-sticks, my sister never failed to opt for spaghetti.)
Walking down Ward Lane late yesterday afternoon, the cold wind ripping down from Ragged with the clouds scattering bits of rain and snow, I approached the baseball field. Green tarps, water pooling on them, had been pulled over the mound and home plate, the red dirt of the base paths had been raked smooth by Garry George, the dugout benches had long been carted away to other fields. The single ball I found, a leftover seed from the past season, won’t spin out of a hand until next spring. I took it all in and thought about the Nor’easter predicted for this weekend that could bring snow to the mountains and bury the field. Proctor’s baseball season barely ripples through the community consciousness, but thankfully the game is still being played on the national stage.
I was met by pigtail braids bouncing up and down as my daughter sprinted to the door asking me through her gap toothed, kindergarten smile to guess what she learned at school today. Before I could formulate a witty response, she blurted out, “Fair is not the same as equal!” I’ve always known this to be true, but how often do we fully appreciate our privilege relative to those around us? How often do we really wrestle with the difference between fairness and equality as it applies to our own lives? Living and working at a private boarding school in a quintessential New England town, I would submit it is not often enough.